August Ascends / August Wanes

by Richard Paez

August Ascends

“Where do the rivers go?”

We ask,
yet August ascends:
no questions, no –
no answers will stand
in Her way.


At the edge of the swamp we stood,
waterlogged, woven-switch-people,
insomniac lovers,
afraid of insects
of the reptiles we'd become.

We dreamt of waking,
prayed for Autumn
and the underwater things
sunshine reveals:

Those shapeless things
we followed,
that followed us –
underwater shadows,
surface ripples,
fungus and chitin.


We dreamt, overcast.

Levees and breakwaters:
how long could they hold?

Our surface tensions,
strained membranes
encasing August's face;
yet still we played
survival of the quickest
in this frozen, silent place.


August ascends,
yet Her children
we'll always be:

Landlocked and submerged.

August Wanes

August wanes (but
some things never change):

The cicadas' call,
more cascade than chorus,
crests over gutters swollen
with July's downpour:

Our springtime submerged
with this detritus turned deluge –
these remainders made rivers,
brimming over turgid trenches –
Summer's distended bellies
starving for Autumn.


August wanes (but
the mosquitoes still swarm.

Impossible to stave
and never satiated:
these little things
subject only to the wind).


We stood there
at the threshold of the storm
watched August ascend.

We raised our arms
prayed to the rain
sunk in the swamp:

Here, in her belly,
is where life happens –

Here, in her belly
is where life tears free:

At the edge of the swamp,
here in her belly
we woven-switch-people stand
where no answers will
and the shapeless, underwater things
– more cascade than chorus,
our detritus turned deluge –

And we:

We are little things
subject only to the wind.


Author's Note: For the all the women who have given birth to me in August.

"...of the reptiles we'd become."
"We had" or "we would" -- it's both, it's each, and it's neither, it's up to you and it's up to me: visit the swamp, feel her arms surround you and her lips consume you, and then -- if you find your way out again -- then you can tell me your answer so that I can burn it like incense and learn how to dream (again).

Inspired, in part, by Ava Blue's August is not so cold cycle.

Posted on 09/02/2009
Copyright © 2024 Richard Paez

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Ava Blu on 09/03/09 at 01:04 AM

I'm quite honored to see my name in your Author's Note. The alliteration throughout was rather complimentary. Your ending was by far a favorite of mine; those last lines represent exactly what I could only hope was achieved in my August series, since I lacked the perfect words. Oh yeah, it is lovely to see a new poem from you.

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